The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Rikster, Mar 24, 2005.
I think its a 1941 Buick.
One of the most important early custom car publications is Custom Cars the Trend Book
No. 101 from 1951. The booklet had two cars on the cover, a Sports Custom done by the
Coachcraft shop colorized in green. And a colorized red car which was identified as an
Ayala custom owned by Hank Griffith. Recent information Hank’s wife Janet shard with the
Custom Car Photo Archive, shed some new light onto this early 1950’s custom cover car.
A write up in the October 1951 issue of Motor Trend magazine gives the Ayala brothers
building credit for the car in the one page article. So this car was known as an Ayala
custom since then.
When I was corresponding with Janet about Hank and the car she told me that it was in fact
Hanks’ good friend Ray Saconi that had chopped the car and not the ayala's as it was
The rest of the body work was in fact done at Gil Ayala’s shop. And most likely this last
information was what was remembered by the journalist who did the write up on the car
for the Trend Publications. And that’s how the rest of the world read about it. And the car
went into history as an all Ayala built custom. So now its time to give credit to Ray Saconi
for chopping the top on Hank's Ford.
Janet shared two really nice never before published photos of the car in white primer.
Here is one, and the Custom Car Photo Archive will share the other one tomorrow.
Janet also mentioned that Hank eventually painted the car in a wonderful metallic root beer.
But unfortunately he never took photos of it.
I recently did a full article on the car in the Swedish magazine Gasoline (right inset photo
shows the openings spread of the article in Gasoline magazine)
Rik, thank you for sharing the info and photo. That has got to be the best use of fadeaway fenders I have seen, the Cad quarters suit the car perfectly.
Thanks for sharing the pic.The car looks flat out gorgeous to me.
Well this new info might help explain why the driprails were left on.If Al chopped it......I think it's safe to say they would of been gone.
Great picture .
It don't look like a Ford from other angles so this may not pan out but it was worth looking into,thanks for the pics.
Ross thanks for the compliment.Dick was great and his son Keith did a ton of the work also.
Long Live the Ayalas
I live this thread. Its like cold case!
I dont know, it looks like the gravel pan was already molded in when it was suede but not molded after it was painted and custom bumpers added. Interesting...?
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^^ Ya that is very intersesting huh ? Don't worry this coldcase will be heating up pretty soon.
I really love how this new pic of Hank Griffiths car really shows the stance.It is a perfect example of how most these customs sat in the early 50s
great bunch of pictures, the ayala built some of the most iconic cars in my opinion, the wally welch merc is my favorite! Personally I am happy the car still lives but would love to see it lime gold rather the barris recreation.
^^^ Amen to that !!!
I think most would have as it seems the chances of the only other Ayala Merc to be painted that colour being brought back to it's former glory are unlikely.
I really enjoyed the story you did on the Hank Griffith Coupe in Gasoline Rik. Ray Saconi really deserves credit for the job he did on that car!
When that is said, I have been working with Al Garcia for a while now, documenting the story of his Ayala Custom, a 1948 Ford convertible. After reading Hop Up and Motor Life Magazine June 1953, you get the impression that this car is a full blooded Ayala custom as well! Well that is one side of the story. I'll let Al tell the other side of it:
"My dad owned an auto body & paint shop in Southwest Los Angeles. It was called National Auto Works. He did work for all the new and used car dealers along Figueroa St. which at that time was automobile row in Los Angeles. I grew up in that shop, so I thought I knew something about dolling up a car. This was my second car. The first was a 1937 Ford Coupe which I painted and had re-upholstered. The metal man at my dad's shop was Harold Blake, a heavy drinkin' black man I had met before as a child when he worked for a used car dealer near where I lived. We closed the shop about noon on Saturdays, that's when I would work on the 1948 Ford. Harold also stayed working late. He became interested in what I was doing and started to help me. As I went along I learned too. Little by little the car took shape. We pruned the hood ornament and shortened the long side moldings. Next we "frenched" the fender seams and rear gravel guard. Of course the car had to be lowered, and I ended up talking to George Barris, at Barris Kustoms, who did the rear chassis channeling. Next I had the front axle re-forged, "dropped." I did that installation. Next came chopping the front windshield. Barris overcharged me for the channeling job so I was anxious to do business with him again. That is when I looked up Gil Ayala at Gil's Auto Body Works. I liked him, we were both of Mexican descent, we got along well and he helped me with ideas for the car. He gave me the East Los Angeles Auto Butchers plaque which I used as a front license plate. "
The part about Barris overcharging him is cool! Haha...channeling the car is quite a job though! The windshield was chopped by Gil around 1952! I'll let Al continue:
"The sloping top was made for me by Louie Chavez at American Auto Tops. He also did the underside of the top. The interior upholstering was done by the top upholsterers of the time, the Carson Top Shop. They were close to my Dad's shop. After that I decided to take the customizing all the way. I bought a dashboard off of a Kaiser that I adjusted to fit the Ford. The dash was also upholstered. Then I took the hood off and made a channel iron frame with a new shape. I took the car to a metal forging shop, and they forged a new hood. The next step was to redo the front grille. I bought a gravel guard and the front "teeth" from the new 1951 DeSoto that had just come out. After installing that I attached a 1951 Oldsmobile top grille bar over the top. Then Harold Blake fitted the hood to the car and the new grille. It all looked great. Last but not least, I took deep recessed Ford headlight rims, cut them to a taper, then "frenched" them in. It was a novel look. Two years later that style came out on several new cars. I would like to think I had something to do with that."
As I mentioned earlier, Hop Up claimed that Gil Ayala did most of the bodywork and design on the car..this was not the case:
"I only had contact with Gil Ayala. Yes, we talked some about different ideas, but after the windshield work I did the rest. He was a helpful guy. The windshield frames were actually stainless steel. After the windshield glass was in, he cut the frames to fit. He actually gas welded them together, filed them smooth and buffed them to a polish. Great job. I did all the priming, sanding and prep work on the car. The painter was Ernie Escontrias, the painter at my Dad's shop."
Today Al is 84 years old. He sold the car to a fellow from Los Angeles in 1956 or 1957, but he can't remeber the name of the fellow! If anyone have additional photos or info of Al's Ford we would love to hear from you! He has more photos of the car himself, but he can't remember where he put them! As soon as he finds them, I'll post them here.
I have added the additional info and photos we have of the car on Kustomrama, so feel free to check em out: http://www.kustomrama.com/index.php?title=Al_Garcia's_1948_Ford
Separate names with a comma.